Connecticut
Profile Type: Artist
NEFA Grant Recipient
Artist
Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti

Historian, playwright, actor, storyteller.          Living History programs introduces untapped accessible history that celebrates the rich diversity, ambitions, courage, determination, and inspiring heroism of American women. The sixty-minute Living History programs are suited for diverse audiences: adults, families, senior citizens, and students’ eight to eighteen with an Interactive Q&A. The program allows the audience to participate, discover new people, objects, attitudes, activities, dress and technology in the context of everyday life. The program highlights contact and conflicts making it more socially relevant and realistic.

Listed below are the Living History Programs. "I Can’t Die but Once" – one of the most daring and effective spies during the Civil War were none other than Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman a woman of unique qualities and abilities even though she was illiterate, maintained an unblemished record of vigilance, legacy of sacrifice and struggle. Subjected to fictional treatments more than serious historical examinations, the elementary school version may be more palatable, but the real Tubman is far more inspiring. To John Brown, she was the General, for the enslaved she led to freedom, Moses. To slaveholders, she was a thief and a trickster. To abolitionist, she was a prophet. She recruited freedmen, and slaves, as scouts and spies. Illiterate as she was, her mental alertness and spiritual development were extraordinary. She was a fearless visionary.

"If I am Not for Myself Who Will Be for Me" - During the fall of 1796, George Washington’s final months in office, Oney Judge Staines, a slave, escaped the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia. There is always an underside - hidden from sight the more unpleasant or reprehensible side that needs to surface to give an integral portrait of a historical event or person. Oney’s story is one such story. Her voice provides the informative accounts needed to appreciate her struggles, self-determination and triumphs of her life. Her account was not a stereotypical runaway account.

"Looking Things Over"  Zora Neale Hurston considered one of the pre-eminent writers of twentieth-century African-American literature, an American novelist, short story writer, folklorist, and anthropologist. After going to Florida in 1927 to collect folklore, and after years of organizing her notes published Mules and Men in 1935. Zora, not only did she love writing the folklores she enjoyed telling them. Zora celebrated the African American culture of the rural South, because she believed that black people had wonderful stories that the world needed to hear and she told them proudly.

"I Promoted Myself" She was an Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist. She followed her dream, turning her life into a true “rages to riches” story. Mobilized a network of 20,000 African American women as sales agents, factory, and office workers. Her sales agents earned between $5.00 and $15.00 dollars a day when unskilled white laborers were earning $11.00 a week. More than a history lesson, she offers inspiration to women – regardless of race—on how to succeed against all odds. Madam Walker’s death was news all over the world, “the wealthiest Negro woman in the United States, if not the entire world.” Fee Negotiable..... Block Booking -available.

JIM CROW TOLERANCE WORKSHOP (HARD HISTORY)  this is a Post Performance workshop or workshop only.   Using artifacts of the past, and how they shaped the racial stereotypes that still linger today, and many of these distorted images still exist in society today. Tolerance workshop provides a means to promote social justice, challenge bias, and engage students/and adults in discussions about diversity that would perhaps not happen otherwise. 

Historical Background information:

Once the enslaved were free, the South had to find a way to live with them. The North had created a model. Jim Crow laws, separating blacks from whites in public facilities, were already on the books in the North. Massachusetts had passed the first known law in 1841, separating whites and blacks in railroad cars. Once reconstruction was complete, and the Union soldiers were gone, the South had to make a huge transition from slave to free society. Because it had been illegal for an enslaved person to read or write before the Civil War, most were illiterate.  Education was sorely needed to assimilate former slaves into mainstream society.  Congress had no plan to help African Americans make the transition from slavery to freedom, a societal vacuum existed. The South began to fill the vacuum with Jim Crow laws. By 1914, every southern state had its own version of how it chose to live with former slaves.  At the same time, the South struggled to make another equally problematic transition: from slave to free economy. Since 1619, when southern colonists first used slaves, the South had a plantation (cheap labor) economy. Now southerners needed to create a completely new market economy.

To put the difficulty in perspective, keep in mind this fact.  America's plantation system had been in effect longer (246 years) than America has been free from British control.

Tolerance workshop provides me with the means to promote social justice, challenge bias, and engage students/and adults in discussions about diversity that would perhaps not happen otherwise.

Original racist artifacts, postcards, photographs, signs, figurines and much more. These artifacts are an excellent way to capture the spirit of an event or idea. However, learning how to interpret artifacts can be challenging. These lessons will help the participants learn to think about the artifacts more deeply. In addition, the lessons will expand participants knowledge of social justice issues.

 

The lesson objective will promote critical thinking skills:

            

           

 

Additional Links: 
Oney Judge telling her story
Madam CJ Walker filmed by JoJo LaRiccia SCAT-TV

I Have Worked With

  • February 2019

    Provide for the New Hampshire Community, opportunities to cultivate curiosity and connect across cultures, inspire a passion for learning about the pass, with interative Theatre.  Have been part of this organization for twelve years, eight to twelve performances a year in New Hampshire.  contracted in 2016, 2017, 2018

  • February 2019

    Solo-Performance "If I am Not for Myself who will be for Me" George Washington's runaway Slave  land "I Can't Die but One" Harriet Tubman. Interactive Theatre.  Two consecutive years.

  • February 2019

    Solo Performance "I Can't Die But Once" Harriet Tubman. Collaboration with the Susan B. Anthony Museum and the Adams Historical Society. On going relationship.

Pages

  • NEFA Grantee
  • Artist

Contact Information

First Name: 
Gwendolyn
Job Title/Position: 
Living History Actor/Historian
Mailing Address: 
PO Box 380496
East Hartford, CT 06138-0496
Physical Address: 
41 Elmer Street
East Hartford, CT 06108
Last Name: 
Quezaire-Presutti
Phone: 
860-212-6129

About

Profile Type: 
Artist
Primary Discipline: 
Theater - Solo / One-Person Show
Additional Disciplines: 
Humanities - Cultural Heritage
Humanities - History
Theater - Solo / One-Person Show
Theater - Storytelling
Visual/Crafts - General
Visual/Crafts - Dolls / Soft Sculpture
Year Founded: 
1997
Populations Served: 
Adults
Businesses
Elders
Families
General Public
Immigrant Populations
Incarcerated (or Formerly Incarcerated) Individuals
LGBTQ Populations
Native American Tribes
Nonprofits
People with Disabilities
School Groups
Teens
Veteran/Active Duty Military Personnel
Youth-At-Risk
Institution/Business Type: 
Artist (Individual)
Activities and Services: 
Performance / Concert / Reading
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Events Per Year: 
20
Seasons Active: 
Spring
Summer
Fall
Geographic Reach: 
Town / City
County
Multi-County Region
State
Multi-State Region
National
International

Affiliations and Accomplishments

Professional Associations: 
National Museum of African American History & Culture
Museum of African American History
NCSS National Council for the Study of Social Studies
International Museum of Theatre Alliance
National Association of Interpretation
SoloTogether
National Women's Alliancce Project
Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery
ALHFAM (The Association for Living History Farm & Agricultural Museums
Reaching Beyond the Classroom
The Connecticut Storytelling Center
New England Foundation for the Arts
ProTalent/Boston Casting Inc
National Association of Black Storytellers
Education: 
Institute of Texan Cultures
Hartford Stage Company
The International Museum Theatre Alliance
Theatre in Museums/Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Connecticut Storytelling Center
Manchester Community College Theatre Improv
National Association of Interpretation
Tejas Storytelling Association
International Toastmasters
South Arts Federation
Awards: 
Theatre in Museums/Theater & Interpretation Techniques Certification at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Alliance Award for valuable service & support Institute of Texan Cultures of San Antonio
Epsilon Sigma alpha International - Keynote Speaker/regional
San Antonio Professional Tour Guide/Updated African American Studies Training
The Institute of Texan Cultures Director's Award for Excellence
Gift to New Hampshire Humanities in my Name
The New Boston Fund Individual Artist Fellowship through the Greater Hartford Arts Council
Certificate of Merit Office of Secretary of State Connecticut
Certificate Arts for Learning Signature Core Services
1st Place International Toastmaster/Interpretive Reading
Crowned Ms. Senior Connecticut 2010
Strawbery Banke Museum's American Lives: A Timeline of Living History Award for "Most Authentic Feeling 2019
I am a NEFA Grant Recipient

Accessibility of Services

I do not have control of accessibility of Services.

I am a Touring Artist

I am NEST eligible
Technical Requirements: 
Space for the performance along with two or three set pieces, provided by the actor is suited for library, multipurpose room, auditorium or a large classroom. Platform increases the viewing pleasure, for a large groups
adult help unloading and loading
Allow time for set up and break down.
arrival time 1 hour prior to performance & breakdown 30 minutes
Sound system lapel or head mic if available and technician
reserved parking space marked
Travel Fee: Based Upon mileage Note: pricing may vary for weekend/out-of-school time Processing Fee of $30 added to all contracts. Post Performance workshop $100.00
Fee Range Minimum: 
$700
Fee Range Maximum: 
$3,000
State of Residence: 
Connecticut
Minimum Number of Performers: 
1
Maximum Number of Performers: 
2

I am a Teaching Artist

Teaching Settings: 
Arts and Cultural Center / Venue
Community Site / Center
Corporate Business
Healthcare Facility
Private Studio
School / University
Subject Areas: 
Arts Integration - History and Social Science
Ages Served: 
Middle School-age
High School-age
Adults
Seniors
Certifications / Training: 
2010 Theatre in Museums - Theatre and Interpretations Techniques at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Signature Core Services Certificate/Arts for Learning Connecticut-
2011 Theatre in Museums - Theatre and Interpretations Techniques at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Hartford Stage Compamy
Alliance Award Institute of Texan Cultures San Antonio, Texas
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures a Smithsonian Affiliate
Fee Range Minimum: 
$700
Fee Range Maximum: 
$3,000